Is The City Liable for Slip and Fall Accidents on Sidewalks
If you suffer injuries in a slip and fall accident on a public sidewalk, you may wonder whether you can hold the municipal government liable to compensate you for your injuries and losses. Pursuing a slip and fall case against the government follows the basic rules of negligence cases; however, bringing claims against the government or public entities involves certain requirements and limitations. You must follow these rules and limitations to be eligible for compensation in your slip and fall claim.
When Can A Municipality Be Held Liable for a Slip and Fall Accident?
A municipality can only be held liable for injuries you suffered in a slip and fall accident on a public sidewalk when the accident and your injuries were caused by the municipality’s negligence. The mere fact that you had a slip and fall accident, even one caused by dangerous or hazardous conditions such as snow or ice, does not automatically mean the municipality was negligent. Instead, to establish a municipality’s negligence, you must prove that the condition that caused you to suffer a slip and fall accident was unreasonably unsafe, and was either caused by the municipality or was known to the municipality (or in certain circumstances, should have been discovered by the municipality) and the municipality had reasonable opportunity to remedy the condition or warn others of its presence.
Municipal Liability for Slip and Fall Accidents Caused by Snow and Ice
Many slip and fall accidents on public sidewalks are caused by snow and ice. However, in most cases, municipalities are not responsible for clearing snow and ice from public sidewalks following winter storms. Municipalities generally only clear sidewalks abutting public buildings or in public areas, such as around parks or along stretches of county roads. Public sidewalks that are privately-owned properties must be cleared by the abutting property owner or occupant.
Even if a municipality is responsible for a strip of sidewalk that you suffer a slip and fall on due to snow and ice, the municipality can only be held negligent if the condition of the sidewalk was unreasonably safe and the municipality knew of the condition and had the opportunity to remedy it. With snow and ice, municipalities, like other property owners, generally are afforded a reasonable time following the end of a winter storm to remove or treat snow and ice. A slip and fall that occurs during a storm or immediately thereafter usually does not support a claim of negligence.
In addition, you will likely need to take photographs of the accident scene to establish that the sidewalk existed in a hazardous condition, if your accident took place long enough after the buildup of snow and ice for the municipality to have had reasonable opportunity to clear the sidewalk.
How Long Do You Have to File a Sidewalk Slip and Fall Claim Against a City or Town?
Generally speaking, the statute of limitations in New Jersey requires you to file a lawsuit for a slip and fall claim within two years of the date of the accident. However, when bringing a claim against a municipality, you are first required to provide the city or town with notice of your claim within 90 days of the accident. The state and city governments provide notice of claim forms you can use to comply with the notice requirement. It is also critical that you ensure that you give timely notice to the correct municipality or local/public agency responsible for the sidewalk where the accident occurred.
The municipality then has 6 months to investigate the claim and defend the claim or deny the claim. Once the 6-month investigation period ends, you may then file a lawsuit against the public entity.
Contact a Brick Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Slip and Fall Injury Case in New Jersey
Were you or a loved one injured due to a slip and fall accident in New Jersey? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Drazin and Warshaw, P.C. represent clients injured in Brick, Lakewood, Jackson Township, Toms River, Brick and throughout Ocean County, Monmouth County and Middlesex County, New Jersey. Call (732) 576-8860 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have offices conveniently located in Brick, Red Bank, and Hazlet.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.